Integrity and Mindfulness: A Father’s Special Brew of Squirrel Pee Tea – I-Open

I hope you enjoy this piece I wrote for http://www.I-Open.org

Integrity and Mindfulness: A Father’s Special Brew of Squirrel Pee Tea – I-Open.

comments appreciated.

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Troublemakers and Pain

One of many struggles people deal with when considering the question, ‘is there a god’ is the question of pain. Pain can register from minor social irritants like the loud neighbors next door to homelessness, the ravages of death and disease.  

Some people reason that all pain is necessary and has benefit.  Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun and teacher in the Shambhala tradition,in the Tibetan tradition,  says that in the vaJiana tradition of Buddhism your teacher becomes your biggest trouble maker.  The idea is these irritants reveal chinks in the armor so to speak.

Pema Chodron “Troublemakers”

 Does all pain have value if one knows how to leverage it? Do we value the human irritants in our lives or shun them? Part of a healthy meditation regimen is bringing your ‘third eye’ to bear on uncomfortableness in yourself.  Do your experiences bare this out or not agree?  What about pain inflicted by war or natural disasters, necessary and fruitful? To those of you that are perhaps Buddhist initiates or laymen forgive me for not talking about what Buddhism says and for making pain and suffering synonymous.

Your thoughts?

Once in the early 80s when I managed a Howard Johnson restaurant in New Jersey, I had inherited a very good staff that got along with each other for the most part and were kind of on auto pilot.

At one point a young man interviewed to be a waiter.  Spencer had big strawberry blond curly hair and had the biggest attitude I’d seen in a while.  He was FLAMING gay, and a white boy, ‘girlfren’ neck jerk, two snaps up down hands on hip, ‘I ain’t the one’ in your face individual,.

I hired him on the spot and others just “knew” at some  point upper management would fire me for this.  If upper management got there noses out of joint they never said anything so my sense is they didn’t.  At first he was a novelty to some of the managers on my staff but later on he was just good and fun.

Man, Spencer turned that restaurant upside down and inside out especially Peggy. Peggy was probably 60 years old, a career server, and a devout fundamentalist Christian, as was I.  Well after this she didn’t think I was, lol.

I should have had a badge for Spencer, ‘I push buttons,’ or something.  I had to suggest to him time-outs, shut down cat fights, constantly cool off Peggy and others too.

The other side of Spencer?  Spencer was very professional on the floor, conscientious, and one of the most talented people person, food delivering waiters I’ve ever seen in the ten or so years I was in food service. He had a great sense of humor, used the word ‘bitch’ a bit too much, and seemed to accepted others, and didn’t hold a grudge.  Spencer was an authentic person and I am so glad I hired him.

The culture of the staff improved, he was a great salesperson and other’s sales went up.  One or two _maybe_ because they weren’t gonna let ‘that fag’ outsell them but mostly because of his example and egging them on.

Parenthetically, a note about top down management.  The homophobe thing had very little traction because it wasn’t a part of me, I detested it, I was at the top of the ‘foodchain’ and that’s what went downhill. That’s why when a law suit brought against Denny’s restaurants claiming racism  ‘proved’ in court the issue was pervasive, not isolated I assumed, it was a top down attitude from management. I haven’t eaten at Denny’s since.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7qFi52FX1Q

A poem from an irritant.

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The G.M.O. Boycott List

See on Scoop.itThe New Liberation Theology

Food companies that are secretly involved in genetic engineering, including some health companies.

Cavana Faithwalker‘s insight:

Another type of boycott is label reading.  One becomes empowered by knowing what is in a product.  One makes a decision about what to do. You can gradually ween yourself off of deadly super duper sucrose and other artificial sweetners and deadly sugar derivatives. Some won’t have to ween and will be able to drop products like the bad habits they are.

In order to do the boycott effectively I will have to take a list with me when I go shopping… Guess I’ll get it lamenated.

See on healthwyze.org

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The G.M.O. Boycott List

See on Scoop.itThe New Liberation Theology

Food companies that are secretly involved in genetic engineering, including some health companies.

See on healthwyze.org

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Heckraiser! Because Hellrazer Was Taken…: Incremental Change

See on Scoop.itThe New Liberation Theology

Cavana Faithwalker‘s insight:

Incremental change technology.

See on heckrazer.blogspot.com

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Weeping Jesus strikes again

See on Scoop.itThe New Liberation Theology

The number one “instinct” of organizations (which I believe the U.S. and most of the world consider legal persons) and people is self preservation.  (Atheist charged with blasphemy in Mumbai.)

Cavana Faithwalker‘s insight:

These poor people im Mumbai and probably all over the world are mislead. So often religion is at odds with truth and physical evidence.  Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  Of course it doesn’t mean just widows and orphans but at the time and in the place this was written these two groups held the most helpless of society; I doubt that it is much different in 2013.

All organizations be they churches, temples, mosques, social service agencies or governments are oganizations that work against the good of human kind out of human and organizational nature.  The number one “instinct” of organizations (which I believe the U.S. and most of the world consider  legal persons) and people is self preservation.

Once a church forms we must realize, the church it self must acknowledge that it puts its existence and comfort ahead of worshipping (upholding) the Life, the Way, the Truth.

Governments put self preservation ahead of the common good of the people en mass that they serve.

It is up to all individuals to see this and realize individuals do the same thing.  Once we realize this we can balance it against our actions on behalf of others.  Next step the more we realize that we are all one then we find ourselves being holistically healthy so as to benefit others.  Then we will see that a huge part of our own self preservation, happiness and wholeness hinges on giving, loving and meeting the needs of others.  We will see we have needs that others need to fill.

See on Youtube

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Dec. 17 Updates on Connecticut Shooting Aftermath

See on Scoop.itTheory of Everything

 in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Where Do We Go From Here Where Do We Start?

 The NRA takes down their facebook page.

             Our national sickness expressed itself once again in Connecticut and garnered national attention.  It expressed itself a few weeks ago in Cleveland Heights as the community met to deal with elementary school kids being forcibly robbed of school Ipads.  No one died but it’s the same issue.  Before that our sick country screamed out in pain through Anthony Sowell in East Cleveland, Ohio.  No one was shot but it’s the same issue.   Just recently again America screamed “I am sick!” through two deaths and 137 unanswered shots fired again in East Cleveland.  Trayvon Martin told us we have a problem some of us are comfortable not listening.

Mixed signals fill the airways with President Obama suggesting that he would do all with in his presidential power to effect meaningful action as the White House spokesman was not so quick to commit officially saying, “It’s complicated.”  This clearly suggests there should be no mass sigh of relief that gun control is handled at the presidential level.

We have to do it, start anywhere after you start at home in your own head, heart, spirit, and body.  What personal commitments will you, have you made as of today to perfect your internal world and direct it toward peace, whatever that means to you?

A few weeks ago Michael Dunn a 45 year-old gun collector and software engineer overcome by dis-ease felt obliged to shoot at least 8 shots into a car with unarmed black teenagers killing one 17 year old because their music was too loud.  He was standing his ground in Florida…

There should be a public outcry of 1968 civil rights proportions until stand your ground laws in Florida and elsewhere are change and politicians who support the law are removed from office and to court room on public endangerment charges.   “The Florida version of the law passed in 2005. While the legislation provides no clear definition of what constitutes a threat, it allows people to use deadly force if they feel threatened regardless of whether they can safely leave the scene,” according to uprisingradio.org. Huh what, regardless of whether they can safely leave the scene?!  More people are going to die and fewer people will be brought to justice.

A study by John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.  What else can be done?

Close to home

I’ve personally seen all of the Godfather movies, CSI, my share of Law and Order Criminal Intent, Good Fellahs, my all time favorite, Revolver and I’m kinda found of mixed martial arts.  The harm I think it has done to me is desensitizing me.  It has not made me violent. I’d say it’s not in me but I think everyone has the capacity and my past media diet would take exception.

I’ve made a commitment to not make gratuitous violence a major part of my diet and stopped watching television over a year ago. Even though I have seen a difference for many years I have many times made the determination that taking on the violence was worth it, for instance, like with the movie Revolver; possibly a pure justification.  I’ve changed my language to be more logical and less antagonistic, more exchange and less confrontation. I strive more to be heard and understood than to win arguments and make people see my way; respectively I seek to listen and understand others. I don’t always get it right.

As I direct attention internally I express it externally through interaction with others, through writing and through what I support.  I’m willing to go out. I will be asking groups I work with if there is something we can do short term and long term.  I will be asking writers I know what they think they should do.  I will be trying to sustain an effort of some sort for a year.

There have been over 30 shootings since Columbine in 1999.  Since 2004 when Mr. Obama took office he has resisted doing anything about the laws stating enforcing current laws was what was needed.  Now in the face of mounting pressure the president seems to be reassessing this stance.  Part of Australia’s fix was to buy back guns. What can be done to not only support any effort toward gun reform but to change the entire cynical malaise of this country?

Make plans, something you can start doing right now also and then something long range that may take preparation.  Join in with someone some group you may not have to reinvent the wheel. We need to walk each other toward a peaceful spirit and put pressure on local and national leaders.

The National Firearms Agreement of Australia — reached among the political parties less than two weeks after a gunman killed 35 people and injured 23 at a Tasmanian seaside resort — cut firearm homicide by 59% over the next two decades and firearms suicide by 74%, the report showed.

The law banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns and put in place a mandatory buy-back program for newly banned weapons.

The buyback led to the destruction of 650,000 guns, the Sunshine Coast Daily reported.  That would be like the US destroying 40 million guns.  Currently there is an average of 88 weapons per 100 people according to the Pew Research Center.

Embrace and Assert What We Already Do More Toward a More Civil Society- things we might consider, a list.

There are so many things that already happen if we could embrace them more and make them central to our everyday comings and goings I believe it will change things.

Specific to mass gun shootings social media mavens replace your profile pic with a no guns sign or the like once a month for the next year.

You know a blogger or an opinion maker or someone like a musician who has access to lots of people?  Challenge them to cover gun violence, nonviolence, civil discourse, a kinder gentler work place or whatever once a month for the next year.

Are you a community group or head of a school that could pass out statistics about violence and bullying to students and parents, show a movie that deals with the issue, make it a family night? Pass out stats about gun violence in neighborhoods door to door where resources are limited.

It is better to feel good than to look good. Many organizations have things in place they could perhaps turn toward our national illness such as the Cleveland Museum of Art.  They have a program in which you catch your colleagues doing something right and out side of what their job description says, report it and HR recognizes them.  Could your school or organization adapt and use this program? Find out more?  The Cleveland Museum of Art Director of HR Sharon Reaves; sreaves@clevelandart.org.

List

Random acts of kindness and Pass it forward. Who can’t do these with a vengeance?

Listen

Practicing patience while driving

Changing one’s language from insulting to understanding.

Are there people who think this is a bunch of nonsense? Sure there are.  Let’s get their ideas.  Where do you stand? What are your ideas?

See on thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

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After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Similar Massacre Since.

See on Scoop.itTheory of Everything

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Sandy Hook school shooting. On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more.

See on Scoop.it – Theory of Everything

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Sandy Hook school shooting. On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more.

 Connecticut school shooting stuns the world.

 However only days after twenty seven people including 20 elementary school children are murdered and a teary eyed response from the president the White House is waffling and side stepping a political solution.  White House spokesman Jay Carney stated, “it’s a complex problem that requires a complex solution.” Apparently these complexities eluded the small island of Australia where strict gun laws were enacted following a 1996 mass shooting.  Australia reports it hasn’t had a similar incident since.

I watched a city wide writing competition for middle schools recently. Prior to the awards announcements there was a talent show.  One young kid sang Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father, there were a variety of other things and an audience participation on stage lip sync and dance of Gangnam Style.  There was so much joy watching these children cheering, singing along acting silly and as I say, fulfilling part of their kids’ job description being carefree.

 So as Luther’s lyrics waxed sentimental and nostalgic wishing for one more dance with father many of us teared up thinking about 20 sets of parents who will never dance with their children again.

A question, I heard in an interview about Sandy Hooks “what do we tell the children,” forced its way into my mind.  We can tell them don’t worry pray and it will never happen to you, we live in a safe and predictable world, but these things are not true.  I looked at my daughter, and her group on stage bumbling through a dance routine then her screaming “woohooo thank you… “  yada yada at the microphone and I thought; honey I hope that was fun. I hope everyday you rise you fend off the evil and negativity of this world living side by side with goodness and mercy and find something joyful in your day, because tomorrow is a gift not promised.

Bill Maher says…

Sorry but prayers and giving your kids hugs fix nothing; only having the balls to stand up to our insane selfish gun culture will. I couldn’t agree more with Bill Maher. In other words faith without works is missing the mark.  Conviction without action is not conviction it is an idea and hot air. If these are real they produce… something.

 Many of us say we believe this, but many of us have few convictions just ideas and hot air.

Is It Gun Culture or a Culture of Violence Flamed by Incivility, Insensitivity, and Intolerance?

Does gratuitous violence beget violence? A lot of us feed our appetite for many forms of violence constantly.  Each individual has to judge the harm things like this do or don’t do, I guess.

One can read all over the I-net that the subconscious mind does not know the difference between fantasy and reality so to the subconscious mind a movie killing is not perceived as fantasy.  I do not know if that is true; however there is research to suggest that in the conscious mind the line between fantasy and reality can be very blurry. According to the work of Donald D. Hoffman, Ph. D., in computational psychology, Department of Cognitive Science University of California, Irvine, reality affirms fantasy and vice versa.

So it could be that the reality is that violence is violent and it only matters in degrees whether one see’s it across the street or on CSI or whether one is a victim of violence.  It doesn’t matter if it is a racist, misogynistic or homophobic degrading joke, snide comment meant to damage someone’s ego, or the last straw body image comment or commercial that drives a young girl into anorexia.

Do you think a violent diet of living vicariously through media good and bad guys alike, enduring slights uncivil and intolerant behavior and language on a regular basis have a cumulative effect?  I think I channeled Rush Limbaugh once.  How much psychic damage does it take to push one over the edge?  How much psychic damage does it take to push one community over the edge or a country over the edge?

Maybe this is what Jesus the sage was eluding to when he said if you create an act in your mind you have committed an act in your heart (he chose adultery to speak about).  The one liberating thing about this maxim is that it must work both ways in the negative and the positive mustn’t it?

 An idea making the rounds on the I-net attributed to Marianne Williamson, says,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I used to roll my eyes at this but suppose most of us are willfully hot potato tossing the power and corresponding responsibility we have off on God by praying or by blaming the closest idiot?  How many of us say that pray, “God send me,” and then get up and go?

Suppose it is true if we have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed we can move mountains?  Gandhi did, Dr. King did. Dr. Paul Farmer did in Haiti.  As great as these people were and are none of them did great things single handedly.

Amit Goswami a renowned theoretical nuclear physicist Professor Emeritus Oregon University and featured in the movie “What the Bleep do We Know?” theorizes that consciousness creates mind and matter, subject and object, which dovetail quite nicely with “mustard seed” faith.

It could be exactly what would happen when “the woman with an issue of blood” healed herself without permission or even asking a god or anyone.  Her faith was not born in religion, she had no faith in doctors, she had already tested them as all faith should be tested, she had faith born out of desperation: a faith that caused her to focus on a solution that had no doctrine behind it, no orthodoxy just an idea and focused commitment to change her circumstance. How many of us have a focused commitment to change ourselves to change our world to change our circumstance?

So Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee proclaim the Connecticut Sandy Hook massacre, Columbine and other school and college related massacres happened because Gentleman Good God has been kicked out of the schools and doesn’t go where he isn’t wanted.  I find myself not wanting to dignify their ideas held by many with any kind of comment or acknowledge that it was even said.

The “Kingdom of Potential” is with in us, not in the act of public prayer but  into the single-minded action we embark upon when we hear ourselves pray and that is why everything that does not proceed from faith that does not proceed from conviction is missing the mark.

One definition of prayer is, a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.  Let us worship life and life more abundantly and let the life be the light of all people.  Let us walk in the life and the way that promotes abundant living and the truth that affirms a God whose definition is goodness and a universe that is sufficient.

I’m sorry Fischer and Huckabee choose to believe something so uninformed about the God they claim to know they are trying to make sense of the world too, just saying.  I guess as the poor shall always be with us so shall the ignorant.  In fact there are areas in which we are all ignorant and blind to what real is so let us mitigate damage as much as we can forgive and continue to press toward the mark not kick against the pricks.

We have such potential to change our world but we abdicate our responsibility though we know if everyone is not comfortable then we are thieves and leeches living at the expense of the poor. We hide our lack of action in words of outrage, and also in prayers and psalms as if in so speaking we’ve done our part. We point our fingers as if responsibility starts just beyond our reach.

 When I hear an atheist quip, “thank you God for sparing the lives of 20 children in Connecticut… oh wait a minute, you didn’t, f*ck God,” I can understand the anger, though I was not angry I was deeply saddened by what happened in Connecticut; I can understand the question, if there is a just God then why?  However I can’t understand the misdirected rage in the midst of such a tragedy.

I must ask that person and all of us of that spirit of complaint and condescension, where is your faith? Was that misdirect the best you can do that’s it?!   Certainly your faith does not rest in your non-god but you must certainly believe in goodness fighting the good fight or you must be silent.  You must have hope in light of a non-existent god that especially together with others you have power to change things or you should have no part in this public showing of pain, dismay, an healing.

 You must certainly acknowledge that without God it is of the utmost importance to have faith in yourself and humanity that your positive mindset and doings must endure if darkness is ever to be conquered if darkness is not to overtake all.

 Darkness will not just go away it is apart of our world with which we must deal.  We must give our lives to fight it, if goodness is to triumph. If your dark side is to remain contained or better yet transformed, reborn.

 I think if you are giving in to your dark side and self -righteousness, if you are putting some burden on others that you don’t accept you brother are a Pharisee; believe me you don’t need a god to be one. There is little difference between you and the religious person you hate and demean for being misguided, bigoted and myopic.

 As misguided as you think religious people are, some of them lost their children Friday.  You may as well grab a picket sign and join Washington Baptist church you are both on the same side, crucifying folks for believing what you feel is clearly wrong.

Coming up: Where do we go from here?

See on www.slate.com

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Qatar poet gets life in prison after ‘insulting’ emir

See on Scoop.itThe New Liberation Theology

A poet will face life in prison in Qatar after penning verses that state officials deemed insulting to the nation’s emir and an incitement to topple the government, his attorney told news agencies Thursday. …

See on www.latimes.com

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5 Common Misconceptions About The Bible

See on Scoop.itThe New Liberation Theology

When it comes to the Bible, modern Americans are at a distinct disadvantage. They know both too much and too little.

See on www.huffingtonpost.com

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